Dissemination of applied research to the field: attitudes and practices of faculty authors in social work

Abstract:  In applied research disciplines like social work, there is a clear disconnect between the production and dissemination of research and the access and use of research in practice. This research/practice divide is particularly problematic for practitioners required to work within evidence-based or research-informed frameworks. To explore this issue, we conducted a nationwide survey and qualitative interviews with social work faculty regarding their research dissemination attitudes and practices, especially to non-academic audiences. The survey and interviews provide data on faculty dissemination methods, attitudes toward gold and green open access and promotion and tenure considerations. Results demonstrate that faculty are primarily engaged with traditional publishing models and much less engaged with dissemination to non-academic audiences. Faculty are skeptical of open access journals, avoid article processing charges and are only minimally engaged with institutional repositories. Faculty are conflicted regarding the dissemination of their research, especially in the context of promotion and tenure. Shifting dissemination outside of non-academic audiences would require increased confidence in open access, support for the creation of practitioner-focused materials and prioritizing the impact of research on practice.